After surgery or an injury, physical therapy can be an effective way to heal and get back to normal daily living. But it’s important to understand that physical therapy is about more than the exercises and movements patients do to recover. The physical therapist, or PT, you work with is an integral part of the process. Whether they’re very hands-on with personalized care like Mike King at Desert Edge Physical Therapy or you’re working with a PT team, understanding what a physical therapist is and how he or she works with patients can help you understand the value of physical therapy as part of the healing and recovery process.
Physical therapy is a health treatment approach that uses movements, exercises, and other techniques to help the body heal itself. Usually, physical therapy is prescribed after an injury, as part of recovery from surgery, or to help improve strength and mobility. As a patient recovers, physical therapy focuses on helping you regain the full function of your body so that you can get back to your normal daily life. In addition to recovery, physical therapy may be recommended to address chronic illnesses or diseases or to help people with physical development delays or disabilities. The intensity of physical therapy depends on the goals set. For example, recovering from an injury may require sessions until you have completely healed, however, physical therapy for a developmental disability may be ongoing.
A physical therapist is a trained health care professional who works with patients in physical therapy. The role of a physical therapist is to help the patient develop realistic goals and a treatment program to achieve those goals. A physical therapist is trained to understand how the body works so he or she can select the best techniques for helping patients improve strength and mobility. The therapist will take your current abilities into consideration as well as what you want to accomplish so that you can improve. Along with developing the treatment program, the physical therapist will work directly with you one-on-one to make sure you are doing the exercises correctly, answering your questions, and making recommendations to maximize your progress. A physical therapist may also recommend exercises or movements to do at home to supplement your physical therapy sessions and help increase the likelihood of hitting your goals.
A physical therapist’s education refers to the instructional and clinical education that get graduates ready for entry into practice. The actual education for the advancement of practicing physical therapists is commonly referred to as post-professional. To practice as a physical therapist in the United States, you must earn a degree from a CAPTE– accredited physical therapist education program as well as pass a state licensure exam.
The normal length of a professional Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree is 3 years. Four-fifths (4/5) of the DPT curriculum is comprised of classroom learning, or didactic learning, and lab study. The remaining 20 percent (1/5) is focused on clinical education. Most physical therapy students spend on average 27.5 weeks in their final clinical experience.
Every state in the US requires physical therapists to be licensed. These requirements vary by state but all do include the passing of the National Physical Therapy Examination administered by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy. Additionally, many states may also require a law exam and even a criminal background check. Continuing education is typically required for physical therapists to keep their license. Be sure to check with your state board requirements to ensure you’re in compliance.
After gaining work experience, some physical therapists choose to become a board-certified specialist. The American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties offers certification in nine clinical specialty areas of physical therapy, which include sports, orthopedics, and geriatrics. Board specialist certification requires passing an exam and completion of an American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)-accredited residency program in the specialty area or at least 2,000 hours of clinical work in your specialty area within the last ten years.
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There are lots of perks when working as a physical therapist.
Physical therapists get to help people get better. Many people go into physical therapy because they want to be part of helping people heal and feel better. Not only do they get to help, but physical therapists are directly involved in working with patients so they can achieve their recovery goals.
Physical therapy is different with each patient. No two people are alike, even if they have similar injuries or similar goals. That means that every day is different, which keeps the job interesting.
The field is growing. Health care positions will always be in high demand, but as the overall population ages, there will be a greater need for physical therapists who can help patients improve strength and mobility.
Research is improving physical therapy. As research teaches the medical field more about the human body, treatments are improving and expanding to be more effective. That means physical therapists get the opportunity to be part of innovative treatment techniques that can make a big difference in people’s lives.
The median annual wage for physical therapists is $85,400. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10% earned less than $58,190, and the highest 10% earned more than $122,130. Most physical therapists do work full-time and around 20% work part-time. A lot of PTs work during normal business hours, however, some may work evenings and weekends depending on their patient load and structure.
Below are the median annual wages for PTs in the top industries according to CollegeGrad:
|Home healthcare services||$93,200|
|Nursing and residential care facilities||$92,960|
|Hospitals; state, local, and private||$87,010|
|Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists||$81,220|